Dr. Patricia Wolff Lifespan Interview

“I’m all about meaningfulness. If I could lead a meaningful life for a long, long time, that would be great. I know there are lots of things we can do in Haiti that would be very useful and that could be done in lots of other places. I don’t see any shortage of things to do.”

Full Interview Transcript:

“You know, if there were technologies that could make me more youthful, and more energetic, for longer so that I could do the meaningful work that I like to do–longer–of course I would be very enthusiastic
about that. Why wouldn’t I?”

Meds & Food for Kids, or MFK, is an organization that I started 17 years ago because of what I had seen in the previous 15 years in Haiti. Lots of sick kids, not getting better with medicine. Sick because they were malnourished and no real way to treat them. So we started making this concoction of peanuts, powdered milk, sugar, oil, vitamins, and minerals with a little hand grinder. Then we put a motor on it, then put a hopper on it and moved six times, and raised money to build a big factory and employ more people. So we now have 66 Haitian employees.

We have worked with thousands and thousands of Haitian peanut farmers over the years to grow better peanuts that we can then buy. And we have now treated in combination with Haiti and 16 other countries to which we export, 430,000 children’s lives have been saved. So we really feel like we’ve really made a dent in it but the really hard part of this is sustainability and continuing and continuing.

I was taking aging for granted and thinking I was just kinda chugging along and was going to live forever. Until last summer, I was in Haiti and it was 9:15 at night and I was in bed and got severe angina. And I knew what it was and there was nothing to be done about it. I didn’t have an aspirin. I called three people and they didn’t have an aspirin. If I went to the hospital they wouldn’t have had an aspirin. They couldn’t have done anything for me and I thought “Whoa. Hmmm…this is surprising. This is how it ends, huh?” And it went on for 90 minutes and in that 90 minutes, that is a long time to think.

So, I fell asleep and I woke up in the morning and I was alive and I thought “Whoa, that’s good. Whoa! That’s something.” And, I didn’t die. I made my calls to the airline and got on the airplane and we went to the hospital and I had a stent put in and here I am today. I’m good to go for another 20 years maybe, but sometimes it doesn’t work out for people. Right? At the cardiac cath, I had a 99% occlusion of the widowmaker so I would have been dead.

You know, I’m really all about meaningfulness and so if I could lead a meaningful life for a long, long time, to me, that would be great. I know there’s lots of things we could do in Haiti that would be very useful and be done in lots of places and if I had more energy maybe I would go to those other places. So, I don’t see any shortage of things to do.”